By Joshua Beneteau
The Ryerson men’s hockey team (16-11-0) lost 4-3 in a close game against the University of Toronto (U of T) Varsity Blues (14-11-2) Wednesday afternoon. The game was a preview of a potential playoff matchup — Ryerson is currently third and U of T fifth in the OUA Western conference.
Troy Passingham was strong in the Ryerson net, turning aside 34 of 38 shots.
“I thought I was pretty solid back there,” Passingham said. “Obviously there were a couple I would have liked to have back but they battled hard.”
U of T opened the scoring with a 5 on 3 goal in the first — Blake Boddy tipped a point shot past Passingham’s glove. But Lombardi tied it through the five-hole of goaltender Brett Willows (43 saves) after a great pass from Robert Visca.
Ryerson broke the game open in the second with a rebound goal from McDonaugh and a hard wrist shot from Froese. Captain Andrew Buck and defenceman Brian Birkhoff assisted in both goals. But after a timeout called by the Varsity Blues, things fell apart for the Rams.
Ninety seconds after Froese’s goal, Russell Turner slid the puck past Passingham. Then Christian Finch broke away and beat Passingham five hole to tie the game 44 seconds later.
“There’s lots of hockey left when they tied it up 3-3,” head coach Graham Wise said. “But we’ve got to be hungry, we’ve got to be hungry to play.”
The Varsity Blues game-winning goal came nine minutes into the third with a hard shot from Tyler Liukkonen. For the rest of the game, Toronto stayed back and tightened up their defence so that Ryerson couldn’t break through.
“They’re dumping the puck in and waiting for us to come out, so there was no urgency on their part,” Wise said. “We’ve got to work harder if we want to go far in the playoffs.”
An 11 a.m. start time allowed for the stands to be filled with children from many of the surrounding schools. Passingham said the early start didn’t change how he prepared and he enjoyed having the fans cheering them on.
“It was great being in that atmosphere,” he said. “It’s always fun to be in those games where there are a lot of fans and a lot of noise.”
Check out our Live Blog of the event.